How to Can Your Own Recipes

Canning recipes are great to have, but they aren’t absolutely necessary.  Now, the GMO Food and Drug Pushers Administration might disagree, but I firmly believe that if you have a grasp on food safety principals and canning basics, that you can preserve your own recipes.

You need to follow the basics of canning.  If you are using a meal-time recipe, you’ll most likely be pressure canning.  (You can find instructions for pressure canning right HERE. )

When I’m canning my own recipes, I always search for instructions on how to can the separate ingredients.  I come up with the processing time by using the time for the ingredient that requires the longest  time to be preserved safely.  So, for example, if I’m canning a roast with carrots, onions, and beef, the carrots require 20 minutes, the onions require 30 minutes and the beef requires 90 minutes.  Thus, 90 minutes of pressure canning is required to safely can this recipe. I also note whether or not the individual ingredients have any special requirements when they are canned. Always use the longest time and the most stringent requirements to make sure your food is safe.

The USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning has a lot of great information on safely canning many different separate ingredients. (And it’s a free download.  Each chapter must be downloaded separately.)

Edited to add: Before I continue, I have to stress that the onus for your family’s safety is upon you.  Because I cannot predict every single ingredient of every single recipe a person might wish to can, I can’t give you a comprehensive list of dos and don’ts. I can tell you that the USDA does NOT recommend canning the following:

  • Dairy Products
  • Flour and other thickeners
  • Grains like pasta or rice (they wouldn’t hold up to the canning process anyway)

As I mentioned above, you need to check the ingredients you intend to include in your recipe against the USDA guidelines. Botulism is no laughing matter – it can kill or paralyze you. I believe that you possess the good judgment and ability to look up your separate ingredients and omit them if they should not be canned. It’s not worth risking the health of your family.

Some recipes will do very well canned, some need a tweak and others simply won’t work at all.

Some ingredients have flavors that “turn” when you can them.  Sage, for example, tastes terrible when canned.  I’ve always used it as an ingredient in my chicken soup, so I didn’t think twice about adding the herb to some soup that I canned.  When I opened and heated up the soup, it was absolutely foul!  I had no idea what it was initially but upon researching it, I learned that sage has a propensity for “turning.”  Spinach as an ingredient, I have also learned from unpleasant experience, gives a terrible flavor to the entire dish when canned. I strongly suspect that greens in general should be avoided in canning recipes.

While we’re talking about flavors, keep in mind that the spices and seasonings that you use will intensify as the jar sits there in your cupboard.  For some foods, this is a great bonus – like spaghetti sauce!  For others, it can be overwhelming.  If you heat something up, like a soup or stew, and find the flavor overpowering, often you can rectify it by adding a few cups of broth.  Ham, in particular, gets incredibly strong.  I only use ham that I have canned as an ingredient in something else – it works well in a pot of beans or in scalloped potatoes.

Just because it looks unpleasant doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad.  Meat often looks rather unappetizing in the jar – the fat separates and floats to the top or the sides of the jar.  Simply stir it back in or dispose of it.

Fat brings me to another tip – it can be risky to can foods that are extremely high in fat – they become rancid far more easily than leaner meats. If you do can something that is extremely high in fat, don’t rely on it having a long shelf-life.

If your recipe calls for the addition of flour or sour cream as a thickener, omit those ingredients during the canning process.  It is far tastier and safer to add those ingredients during the reheating process.  When I make beef stew, for example, I can the stew ingredients and herbs in a broth or water, then when reheating, I dip out a small ladle full of liquid and stir in flour to make a hearty gravy.

If your recipe calls for rice or noodles, omit them and add them at serving time.

Once you have the hang of canning using recipes, it’s really simple to modify your own recipes.  Please feel free to ask me any questions you might have and I’ll do my best to answer them for you. I’ll be watching the comments section!

Have any of you learned the hard way about other foods that have flavors that become unpleasant when canned?  Please share in the comments section!

These are the products I recommend for canning.

Still want recipes? Check out my book, The Organic Canner.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Cheryl Knapp - May 27, 2015

There is another Website that is very worthy of listing and has university tested recipes. This website along with the USDA will give you and all readers lessons in safe and sane canning.

I really enjoy your website and just want you to put good information out there. I am a certified Master Food Preserve trained through the university of California Cooperative Extension.

    Daisy Luther - May 27, 2015

    Hi Cheryl – please feel free to share a link to the website you referred to in your comment. 🙂 Thanks for your input! We strive to abide by the USDA guidelines for safe canning here, so all of these resources are very welcome.


Miriam - May 27, 2015

Daisy – can you tell me if the way you can the beans leaves you with beans you could use in a bean salad or are they too soft for that? I’ve never been able to can beans that weren’t mushy when I opened them. Okay for chili land refried beans but not for salad. Thanks. Great Site.

    Daisy Luther - May 27, 2015

    These would be too soft for bean salad. You might try reducing the soaking time, Miriam. I’d try a half hour soak and then play around with it from there. I’m not positive if it will work because there is such a fine line between “firm” and “not cooked”. 🙂 Please report back if you experiment with this!

    And thank you for the compliment about the site!


Christy - June 3, 2015

You’re going to kill someone.

    Daisy Luther - June 4, 2015

    Hardly. You must have missed my stringent recommendation about going by the USDA guidelines for processing.

debbie - June 4, 2015

A lot of your recommendations, as well as your comment about having canned cream soups go against the usda guidelines. It is clear from this post that you have not read them in their entirety if at all. You cannot safely can any form of dairy, rice or pasta and must soak and pre cook beans before canning. You really should remove this post because of liability issues and download the usda complete canning guide pdf. It’s free. You really could kill someone or make them blind with the irresponsible and uninformed information you are giving here.

I have taken over a dozen canning classes and am beyond appalled by your irresponsibility.

    Daisy Luther - June 4, 2015

    Well, I’m not removing the post, because canning your own recipes IS safe, if you’re careful. I have, however, made some adjustments to the original piece.

    Thanks for your input.

Theresa - July 27, 2015

Daisy, I am not sure why you are being chastised for not reading FDA guidelines when the people chastising you didn’t read the post. You say the FDA recommends not canning dairy, flour and grains! People that are canning need to learn to read FDA vs other methods and decide for themselves.

Bridget - July 28, 2015

People are gonna can whatever they want. Thank you for sharing your info. 🙂

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